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23 October 2015
Exclusive: Row breaks out over public CCTV funding

Exclusive: Row breaks out over public CCTV funding

Government ministers have come under pressure from council leaders to pay for work to help restore ageing public CCTV systems.  

Local authority body COSLA has called for the Scottish Government to fund research into the “patchy landscape” of public space cameras across Scotland. 

Councillors claim the work, which it estimates would cost £40,000, is essential to help make the case for capital investment in the ailing network.


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However, a row looks set to break out after government made clear that responsibility for investment in and maintenance of CCTV systems is for local authorities working with Police Scotland.

A leaked Police Scotland report last year warned that a “major investment is required in CCTV if it is to remain viable”.

COSLA vice president Councillor Michael Cook wrote to Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, as well as Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, last week. 

The letter, seen by Holyrood, calls on ministers to “reaffirm their commitment to maintaining a fit-for-purpose network across Scotland”.

According to the letter, a working group comprised of officials from local government, Scottish Government, Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority settled on the need for research into funding arrangements as well as technological issues earlier this year.

Progress to act has been slow, though, after none of the parties round the table offered to step up and fund it.

The work would include an assessment of how compliant public space CCTV is with current legislation as well as costed options for technical upgrades to ensure the network is fit for purpose. 

The letter also hints that such research would provide a foundation for other agencies besides local authorities and Police Scotland to contribute to the maintenance and upgrade of public space CCTV.

“I think it is only prudent of us to recognise that this issue will continue to rear its head over the coming months and years,” writes Cook.

“All partners therefore have a responsibility to do what they can at a national level to maintain a functioning CCTV network and COSLA members feel strongly that this work does not lose momentum.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman confirmed the letter had been received and the “terms of the response will be for ministers to agree in due course”.

“We recognise the importance of CCTV systems for the deterrence and detection of crime,” she added.

“Our National Strategy for Public Space CCTV in Scotland facilitates a more strategic approach to CCTV development and management for local partners.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Whilst we are unable to discuss the detail of the letter at this time, in partnership with COSLA, SPA and the Scottish Government, Police Scotland is discussing the provision of public space CCTV across Scotland.”

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